Spiritual Self-Reliance

As we grow up, we lean onto the testimonies of others as we mature in our understanding of the gospel. That isn’t a bad thing, we all need a little help sometimes, and even as we begin to gain our own testimonies, we will still need to lean on someone else at times. Jeffrey R. Holland said, “if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine.” The main focus of becoming spiritually self-reliant is gaining your own testimony and your own motivation in the gospel. This has been especially important to me because I will be going to college soon, and when I’m in college I won’t have my mom waking me up in the morning to get ready for church. I will have to gain my own love for the church so that I don’t fall away.
Becoming spiritually self reliant is like putting on armor. The stronger our testimony and spirituality is, the less we will be affected by what the adversary throws at us. In some cases, it is easy to build up certain parts of our armor we know we will need. I know that someday I’m going to wake up on Sunday morning and be tempted to lay back in bed and sleep. Because I know that is going to come, I can prepare for it and gain a testimony about coming to church meetings and its significance in my life as a disciple of Christ. You can prepare for temptations that you think you will face by making decisions ahead of time. If you know people at school may pressure you into partaking of harmful substances, make the decisions now that you will say “no” and leave. There are many decisions that can be made ahead of time. I have decided that I will be married in the temple, I have decided that I will not get a tattoo, I have decided I will not wear bikinis, I have decided not to drink coffee, and the list goes on.
Self-reliance becomes harder when you are hit by something you didn’t see coming. No amount of verses read or lessons taught by my church leaders could have prepared me for my friend Savannah suddenly passing away in a car accident last March. Nothing has ever thrown me for such a spiritual loop. I have always been a member of the church and many lessons have taught me the answers to the question “why do bad things happen to good people” with the answer that God has a plan and I need to trust in Him. I had always easily accepted that until March 14, 2016. I began asking myself all the questions I never thought I would ask “Does God really have a plan for me?” “Why would he take her from the world so young?” “Am I sure God even exists?” I had not prepared myself to be able to withstand this trial and as that part of my testimony began to crumble, all the other parts of my testimony became more susceptible. I was more easily hurt by friends who did me wrong and I began to lose my testimony in the youth program, I wondered why I even came to a church with a God that let things like this happen in the world. My world fell apart around me and I felt empty without a testimony of the gospel basics. We all may reach a point in our lives when we have to find the gospel for ourselves, when a trial is so damaging and so personal that leaning onto others won’t do the trick.
When we find ourselves in times like this, we need to pray. Even when we aren’t sure if anyone is listening to us, we need to hold on to whatever seed of faith or desire we have and just open our mouths and call out to him. We need to remember the times in our lives when we felt the Spirit and rely on those memories and those feelings to guide us back. In the midst of my darkness, when I felt I was without friends and without a foundation, I finally chose to offer a prayer, just hoping that my Father in Heaven was still out there. After I closed my prayer I walked over to my bookshelf and found myself taking out the EFY booklet from the year I met Savannah. As I flipped through the pages I began to cry, remembering all the times I had spent with her. But this time, instead of becoming angry at God for taking her away, I felt peace for her. As cliche as it may sound, I realized she was in a better place, a place that someone as wonderful as she was deserved to be. She wouldn’t want me to waste my time questioning God because she was with Him and wants me to feel the joy she does. On the final pages of my book, I found the testimony I had written that summer while sitting next to my dear friend. The part that stood out to me said “Even though I am broken, He wants to fix me, He wants to guide me home. He will lift me up when I fall, He will pilot me, He will help me repent. I need Him, every hour: All I have to do is ask for help and He will gladly come to me. Loneliness is a figment of my imagination, for Heavenly Father is always with me, knocking on my door, waiting to come in.” After that day, I was able to piece by piece, put my armor back on stronger than it was before and one of the many lessons I learned was that I can’t wait until a huge trial to solidify my testimony.
Life isn’t supposed to be easy, and we cannot appreciate sweetness if we have never tasted anything bitter. God has given us all the tools we need to survive these trials. He gave us family, friends, and church leaders to lean on and teach us how to stand on our own. Spiritual self reliance isn’t about prospering in the good times, it is about withstanding the hard times and growing stronger from them. Although self reliance requires us to use our own abilities, it also requires us to trust in God and Christ. One of the hardest parts about becoming independent is realizing that although we may no longer rely on our parents or someone else on this planet for temporal needs, we need to be humble enough to follow God’s will and follow the teachings of Christ.
So how do we become spiritually self-reliant? I touched on it a little bit earlier, but I’d like to expand on it. Henry B Eyring said, “We build the faith to pass tests of obedience over time and through our daily choices. We can decide now to do quickly whatever God asks of us.” I received some good counsel once that people who are struggling in the gospel are often not doing to basic tasks, such as daily prayer and daily scripture study. We are always taught that these are important but they can be hard habits to keep up. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I forget to pray in the rush of my morning routines and sometimes I get in bed without my scriptures and am too lazy to get up and go read them. For personal progress, I had to pray morning and night for three weeks straight and I decided to also read morning and night to try and get myself into those habits. Those three weeks were some of the best I’ve ever had and although the habit isn’t concrete I can always look back on those weeks to remind me of why I should do it.
To be spiritually self reliant you also need to be constantly motivated to follow the commandments. Motivation is really important and somewhat difficult for me. When my alarm goes off at 4:45 in the morning it takes a lot of motivation to get up and get ready and go to seminary. And then I go to school and I’m tired and people always ask me “Why don’t you just get some coffee?” It’s a cruel irony, but it is a missionary moment. Regardless of how tired I feel, God has always blessed me with the ability to keep a positive attitude and do fairly well in school. He has also helped to find motivation. Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing- that’s why we recommend it daily.” Being a member of this church isn’t always easy but it is always worth it. Sometimes we won’t see the immediate blessings of us following the commandments but we will see them when we are tested and our testimony holds strong in the face of adversity.

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Hi! I'm 20 years old studying at Brigham Young University. I love fried rice, lacrosse, volleyball, and everything related to Elvis.

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  • Abbey Comer
    January 3, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Kylie, you are amazing! I really admire you, your testimony, and your conviction to living by your standards.

  • Marilyn
    January 3, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    So sorry for your loss. My sister and I lost a friend we knew since 7th grade a few years ago to lung cancer. The hurt never goes away. God does help with the healing process.

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  • Mary Ewer
    November 4, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Thank you for this post, I am using it in teaching my youth Sunday school class today about spiritual self reliance.